One of the keys to Boston being in this in June — one of the reasons that Kendrick Perkins could be traded — was that Shaquille O’Neal could do the job in the middle.
The Celtics will not have Shaq for game one against New York and maybe longer, Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge told the media Saturday. Here’s the word from our man A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England.
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, made the announcement this afternoon with team physician, Dr. Brian McKeon.
“He has been making progress,” Ainge said. “We tried to get him out there to practice today, simulate the game as much as we could. He’s not ready. We don’t know when he’ll be ready.”
McKeon said the trial O’Neal was involved in consisted of him running, a test McKeon acknowledged O’Neal had failed.
“It didn’t work,” McKeon said. “It’s just too sore. We’re going to spend another … get back to tomorrow and hopefully we’ll get him back soon.”
They tried to have him run and shut him down due to calf and Achilles issues. Those are what have kept him off the court for all but five minutes since Feb. 1.
No Shaq makes beating Knicks more difficult — you’d like to be able to pound them inside — but if Boston’s defense is focused and Rajon Rondo gets back in his groove they should still win (the Knicks have a puncher’s chance).
To get that offense back in a groove, Rivers said he is dumbing the offense back down to the basics, as reported at Celtics.com.
“I’m cutting out literally half of our offensive playbook,” Rivers told the media after Friday’s lengthy practice, which lasted about two and a half hours. “I made a choice: I’d rather run a couple things well than a lot of things average or poor.”
Less than a week ago, when the Celtics were in Miami being trounced by the Heat, Rivers was picked up by ABC’s microphones telling his team, to paraphrase, “Keep it simple. Keep the game simple.” When he didn’t see his players return to that level of simplicity, he decided to make the decision for them.
There may be no more entertaining series than Boston and New York, which gets underway Sunday night in Beantown.
LeBron James’ Lakers edge Dwyane Wade’s Heat in final meeting
LOS ANGELES (AP) —LeBron James scored 28 points and the Los Angeles Lakers survived Dwyane Wade‘s 15-point performance in the second half of the superstars’ probable final on-court meeting for a 108-105 victory over the Miami Heat on Monday night.
The game appropriately ended with James guarding Wade, who missed a difficult 3-point attempt in the waning seconds. After the buzzer sounded, and they shared a hug and a chat to close perhaps the final joint chapter of two careers that have intersected repeatedly since they entered the NBA together in 2003.
Wade and James teamed up with the Heat in 2010 to win two championships while reaching four consecutive NBA Finals, and they spent half of last season together in Cleveland.
Wade intends to retire after this season, and Staples Center sent him out of Los Angeles in style with multiple standing ovations and a tribute video in the first quarter.
James and Wade both missed big shots down the stretch, but James hit two free throws with 22.5 seconds left to stretch the Lakers’ lead to three points.
Kyle Kuzma scored 33 points for the Lakers, who have won 13 of 17 overall and five straight at home.
Justise Winslow scored a career-high 28 points for Miami, hitting six 3-pointers in the third stop on the Heat’s six-game road trip.
Wade’s wife, Gabrielle Union, was among the fans at courtside as the high-scoring guard played 32 minutes. Wade went 0 for 5 in a scoreless first half, but still had six assists.
He got rolling in the third quarter with eight points in a flurry that recalled his heyday, and he kept up the pressure in the fourth while finishing with 10 assists and five rebounds.
Marcus Morris scores 31, leads depleted Celtics past Pelicans 113-100
With four of their regulars relegated to cheerleaders, the Celtics got a season-high 31 points from Morris and another 21 from Tatum to beat New Orleans 113-100 on Monday night for their sixth straight victory.
“The first thing was be a leader,” Morris said. “We had a lot of guys down … and keep trying to play the right way with the guys out there.”
Anthony Davis scored 41 points and Julius Randle had 20 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, which was playing back-to-back games after beating the Pistons in Detroit on Sunday. But Davis also had two shots blocked by Celtics rookie Robert Williams III.
“He had 41,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “I think everybody has gotten their shot blocked at one time or another.”
Jaylen Brown scored 19 for Boston, which was also without Gordon Hayward and Aron Baynes. Williams, in the longest appearance of his career, had career highs of seven points and 11 rebounds, while picking up three blocked shots – two on Davis.
“Well, he held him to 41,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens joked. “I thought Robert did a lot of good things. When you’re shooting jumpers and Robert’s in the vicinity, you feel him.”
The Celtics scored nine straight points in the last four minutes of the first quarter to take a lead they would never relinquish. They led 59-53 at the half before Morris hit three 3s – one from the left corner, one from the right wing and one from the top of the key – to make it 68-55.
New Orleans never got closer than nine points after that.
Lakers fans give Dwyane Wade standing ovation; check out L.A. tribute video
Turner has had a strong defensive season in the paint so far for the Pacers, a big step for him. He’s sixth among centers in ESPN’s defensive real plus/minus stat (which has its flaws but is a good snapshot).